Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kitchen Disasters

Today over at Lola's Diner, the 'Blog Back Time' topic is Worst Kitchen Disaster. I've been thinking all morning about whether or not I've ever had a kitchen disaster, becuase for the most part, I've been very lucky in the kitchen. One particular episode does come to mind, though.

Back when Chickenhead turned 4, we had a pirate-themed birthday party. Pirate parties were not in vogue then, so finding all the pirate loot was a challenge. I've never been one to back down from a challenge, though, and I decided I was going to bake the cake to look like a pirate ship. I would decorate it with root-beer barrel candies, and Whoppers for the cannon balls. Yes, I had a plan!

The one thing I didn't have though, was a pirate-ship cake pan. No pan? No problem! I would simply bake two round cakes, cut them in half and set them on the rounded sides to simulate a ship. Enough chocolate frosting and the kids wouldn't care what it looked like, I reasoned. I found some cute little pirate figures in the cake decorating section at Michael's and I was in business.

Baking the cakes was easy enough, and I put them in the fridge overnight to cool. I woke up early the morning of the party and got to decorating. I got my cake halves frosted and stacked next to each other. I ran the tines of a fork through the frosting to simulate the wood. I stood back to admire my work and slowly but surely, the layers of cake began to fall away from each other. And fall apart in to a crumbling mess. Which was pretty much what I did at that point. After I finished cursing the cake, the frosting, the oven, the party itself and anything else I could think of, I realized I still needed a cake for the party that would be starting later that afternoon.

And so, at 6 AM, I headed up to the grocery store in search of cake. I figured surely they would have something made up in the bakery that I could just throw the little pirate figures on. But no, at 6 AM on a Saturday morning, there were no bakery cakes to be had unless I wanted a chocolate pudding bundt cake. Muttering under my breath like a crazy woman, I dashed to the baking aisle and picked up more frosting and another cake mix. By golly, I was going to make this cake and I was going to show it who was boss! I paid for my purchases and went home.

Again I baked two round cakes and threw them in the freezer to cool. I whipped the frosting to get it extra smooth. This time, it went on the cake perfectly. I woke up and held the layers together with some wooden skewers. I gave up on decorating it with root-beer barrels and Whoppers because it turned out Chickenhead had eaten all of them the night before. I put the little pirate dudes on the cake, and even made a couple of sails from some paper and more skewers. This would be a great place for me to post a photo, but I don't happen to have one. I'll have to scan it later. For all the blood, sweat and tears I went through, that cake turned out pretty damned good! It was hardly cake-wrecky at all!

After that episode, I vowed to never make another birthday cake. It was too emotionally draining! I bounced back the next year, though, to make an R2D2 cake that finally did me in. I've bought either cupcakes or a sheet cake since then. The best way to avoid a cooking disaster, I think, is to know your limits. And when you think you know your limits, go ahead and scale it back a few notches anyway!


Auntie E said...

Oh that cake story. I just loved reading it. I remember the cake day and birthday expectations. think god for wilton theme pans and Friends who had them.
My Cooking disaster is posted.

Auntie E said...

Now my spelling needs help, that's Thank God for the Wilton Theme Pans. Kids at shoulder want to eat.Why they just eat! Bottomless stomachs:-)

Sheri Jones said...

LOL! Great story but my favorite...the moral. I'm going to copy/paste that and put it on a 3x5 card (laminated of course) and put copies in every room in my house....and one in the car.

Lola said...

Great post! Thank you for participating.

Couldn't you pass off the first one as a ship wreck? J/k. Lol!

You MUST tell me where you get your vintage, kitchy photos from. I'm loving them.

A.Marie said...

Great Story!! It's like my Grandma used to say, "If you're going to bake, take two aspirin beforehand! It'll ward off the migraine before it starts!" LOL

I agree with Lola; where DO you GET those AWESOME pics? :)

Kelley said...

Lola- I was a wreck after that first cake! lol

A.Marie- I think your grandma was on to something! I knew there was a reason I keep the advil in the kitchen cabinet!

As for the pictures, thanks, ladies! I love vintage! Check out - that's where I find a lot of them. I think I'm going to make a tag to link them on my blog. They also have a sister site, Shorpy, which is a great collection of B&W photos.